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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  July 24, 2011 8:45am-10:00am EDT

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>> with titles like splendor, godless, guilty and her latest demonic, ann coulter has something to say now sunday august 7th your chance to talk to, email and tweet the "new york times" bestselling author ann coulter for three hours at on booktv on c-span2. >> up next on booktv, adam goodheart a civil war columnist for the "new york times" recounts the first year of the civil war in 1861. he examines the revolutionary fervor that ran through the nation prior to the start of the war and the momentum that led to the early clashes, april 12th, 2011, marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the civil war. this is just over an hour.
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[applause] >> thank you very much, steve. i am a great lover of this wonderful institution, the national constitution center. i also wanted to remind you that we have an exhibit upstairs in posterity hall between signers hall and the main exhibit area on lincoln that i hope you'll get to take a look at sometime in the coming weeks. it's obligatory for a person sitting in this chair to praise the author and to praise his book and ethically i think anyone who agrees to perform my role as interlocutor has to genuinely believe that. and that other occasions in which i've done this, i have
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done this. but this really is an occasion in which i want to go a little bit over the top because i do think adam is a very special that historian and this is a very, very special book. as steve described adam's career, he really has been at a remarkably early age a very important public intellectual. speaking to a wide audience about a wide variety of subjects since -- i think since he graduated from harvard not that long ago. and now he hasunder taken -- it's hard to believe -- by the way, i have a really copy of my book in my hand because the publisher bound galley proofs. >> that's what an author likes to say, a really ragged copy. >> but it's dog-eared so i think i read it. [laughter] >> i hope you read it. [laughter] >> but this -- this is a very
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important book and it's a first book. you've done a lot of writing before this time but this is is the kind of book that you would expect from a scholar who had written five or six or seven such books. it really does give a remarkable picture of the first years leading up to and finally coming out in the civil war. adam has this style in which he makes very important general points about the american nature and nation and about the coming of the civil war but he does so by just telling some absolutely compelling anecdotes about individuals, many of whom you'll be familiar with but many of whom you will not until after you read adam's book. so i must say that i'm somewhat shameless by this book, okay, so i'm going to get to business. now, adam -- adam has been a
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very busy man in the past couple days with all sorts of public appearances, maybe some of you saw the interview with him in the "philadelphia enquirer." he was on fresh air with teri gross. yesterday he was on marty moss-coane radio times and as frank mentioned yesterday was the anniversary of the firing of fort sumter and today is the anniversary for the surrendering of fort sumter and we will get to those moments but i want to begin sort of at the beginning of adam's book by asking about december of 1860. abraham lincoln has been elected a president. i think it's fair to say that a few grumpy politician business it. i would say more south
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carolinians are grumpy by the outcome. they're enraged by the outcome and you introduced us to a relatively unknown at least to me an unheralded man a major robert anderson who has just been given command of the federal garrison at fort moletry in charleston harbor. i wonder if you could talk about those events and in particular help us understand what's going on in anderson's mind as he's given command of what might be a hopeless task? >> well, one thing i do want to thank you, rick, for your introduction and also especially the part about being young. i've gotten it a couple times thooekz. i thought only in the context of civil war historians as someone who's 40 years old get to be called this sort of kid all the time. [laughter] >> anyway, i like it. but anyhow, i'm glad you brought
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up this character of robert anderson because he's one of my favorite characters in the book. and he's the first hero of the union cause, largely forgotten today, i think, by most people except for the real sort of civil war nuts. and he's fascinating to me because he's a very reluctant hero. he's a sort of an accidental hero which to me is the most interesting kind. he's a southerner. he's from kentucky. he comes from a slave-holding background. in fact, his wife was the daughter of a very wealthy planter and they made a lot of money terribly by selling off the slaves that she had inherited. and he's a career officer in the u.s. army who finds himself stationed at this sort of sleepy little post in charleston harbor. it was really a kind of cushy army post before the civil war where they sent officers who were seasoned to wile away their
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time going to barbecues and very quickly, however, he's at the center of an unfolding national crisis. in fact, it's already unfolding when he arrives. the south -- the southern states begin to secede, of course, in december of 1860, a month or so after lincoln's election as president. and this little island fort sumter in the center of charleston harbor becomes an isolated union outpost. i think you want me to talk to as they get to fort sumter. anderson is originally stationed with his men at a place called fort moletry which is an old fort which goes back to the american revolution. >> his father had been stationed at this fort in the 1770s, 1780s during the revolution. and he's got this little
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garrison there. literally, it's 60 men and a brass. that's the sort of military force that he ends up being the bane of the entire confederate states of america. 60 guys and a brass brand and some workmen. and they quickly realize they're at the center of this unfolding secession crisis. south carolina is sort of the center of this white hot secession fever and charleston is the center of that. and southern militia begins in circling this little fort. and anderson's men realize that this fort is about as defensible should it come to that as a public park. and they're looking out at these troops that are massing all around them. they feel as anderson writes in a letter, he feels like a sheep tied up watching the butcher
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sharpen his knife not a very pleasant image. and so he does something very bold. he ignores his orders from the war department or more sort of his lack of definitive orders and by night, under cover of darkness, he and his men cross their boats into fort sumter and were a defensible position in charleston harbor and this is seen throughout the south as an act of war. it's interesting when we talk about the beginning of the civil war today the story tends to begin with this southern shot being fired at fort sumter. it's a very dramatic moment. it's a very important moment in american history, but for many people in 1860, 1861, this conflict began more when robert anderson and his men crossed charleston harbor and raised their flags above fort sumter, the south carolina newspaper headlines scream out by this act, major anderson has
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inaugurated and has inaugurated a civil war in our country and so that's write start the book, this sort of night escape. we're right there at the fort as the boats are slipping away from the beach and crossing over and major anderson has the american flag tucked under his arm that he will raise on the new fort. >> thank you. and it's just a -- one example of adam's techniques. he takes a person who we don't know much about, who was not a conscious hero in this struggle but committed some quite extraordinary acts. >> yeah. he was -- >> that also play into motion. >> he was very ambivalent and i like that about him. he was seen in the army as being this sort of gray bureaucrat. he was literally this sort of very gray-looking man, very serious and sort of dour and he was mostly known in the army for
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having translanded certain french artillery french textbooks into english and being sort of everybody's instructor and artillery at west point. he was the guy's part he had to graduate but nobody really looked forward to it and here's this guy a major professor anderson in the middle of a crisis. he was also a southern sympathizer in his heart and he even said that. he sim thighs with the southern sense of grievance over the way the institution of slavery was coming under attack and under threat. and so the entire time that he's there in charleston harbor, it's becoming increasingly clear that this is the thought where war is most likely to begin. he's already fighting a war within himself and so i see this character of major anderson as in ways a distillation of the war that's being fought within the heart of america and being fought within his heart. >> adam also adds as one of the post-scripts in his book the
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extraordinary fact that major anderson now colonel anderson -- >> general anderson, yeah. >> is brought back from the civil war to raise the union flag once again on fort sumter and on the evening of that day that he did so, abraham lincoln was assassinated. one of these remarkable comings together of events coming to american history. i want to ask you another, this is boarding on trivia but i think my loyalty to the state of pennsylvania requires that i ask a question about -- >> so i don't have to -- >> the only president he only distinguished james buchanan. adams has a wonderful scene it's new year's day at the buchanan white house. what was -- what was that day like both in the white house and maybe you could give us is brief assessment of president
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buchanan. >> well, you know, buchanan as you know has been vilified by many generations starting with his own generation. he was seen as sort of a loser and a must fit and disaster as president before he ever left the white house. not that this resonates at all in our own times, of course. [laughter] >> democrats, you can take that as you will. republicans, you can take that as you will. sort of insert face here. but buchanan -- actually, i love these characters from history who have been sort of pushed to the margins because to me in many ways they end up being more interesting than the heroes. it's so easy to celebrate the people who are on the right side of history. in my book i sort of try to get in the hearts and minds of people who ended up being on what we think of as being on the wrong side of history. there's this scene of new year's
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day. now, buchanan was a total contrast to abraham lincoln in many, many respects. where lincoln was sort of the worst-qualified man ever to become america's president, when you looked at his resume, he had been a one-term congressman from illinois. buchanan was the best qualified man. he had a glittering, long flitter resume but like lincoln buchanan was born in a log cabin. not a lot of people know that. he loved to host parties, he would host receptions from visiting japanese ambassadors to indian chiefs and he would open the doors to the white house and poem would come in and partake of the federally subsidized cake and whisky at these events. they drank a lot of whisky in the antebellum years. and there's this last scene in my book of the last dismal reception at the buchanan white house. it's january 1st, 1861.
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and there was a tradition that some of you may know of in america, in washington, of the president throwing open the doors of the white house, quite literally, to sort of any decently washed and moderately sober citizen who wanted to say hello to the president of the united states on new year's day. this lasted until herbert hoover, amazingly enough. you could walk in and wish the president happy new year's. this is a miserable affair. the marine band is sort of sawing out "hail to the chief" as best they can. on one side of the room where all the prosouthern washingtonians glowering across the room to the pronorthern washingtonians and it's sort of that last buttering and ember of this ill-fated buchanan administration. >> so now i'm going to turn to a big question, but it's a big question that i've been
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struggling to figure out how to ask. there's a tangle of conflicting thoughts in my mind relating to the specific moments of april 12th and april 13th, 1861. and they're tangled by some more general thoughts about the clauses of the civil war and tangled further by my recollections of my own inadequacies of the teacher of the american history survey course at the university of pennsylvania where most of my career there. i should confess that unlike most of the people who teach the first half of the american history survey course, i actually end the course with a firing on fort sumter. ..
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>> and that the north was very reluctantly, halfheartedly respond to that challenge. it's not a conflict that they wished to have. your interpretation is not wholly at odds with that, but you do see northerners even at the moment of fort sumter as not merely occupying and attentive posture. but as standing up in an affirmative way for things in
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which they sincerely believed. i wonder if you could talk a little bit about your sense of what northerners thought they were about to fight over? >> first of all ages want to say when you talk of having hard time keeping track of the battles, i'm the same way. nobody asks me like whose calgary went charging over which he'll get his infantry, i can't remember that stuff at all. that's not the part that interest me. i'm interested in what's going on in the hearts and minds of people who were living through this experience. the hearts and minds of northerners and southerners were much more divided i think van we are often told thing. i do believe that the union cause was ultimately not just a movement to keep the nation together, but was an anti-slavery caused, in a very significant way.
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i know that's a very rare thing to hear because we are told, and it's completely true, that they were very few abolitionists in the north in 1860 and 1861. abolitionism was seen as sort of this dangerous sort of weird sect, you know, they were like people who refused to use, to burn fossil fuels at all in the course of their lives as they believe that this would harm the embargo. some people sort of accepted kind of a general philosophical theoretical way that this was a correct position but who's going to be crazy enough to actually espouse this and live this view that ultimately we do so much to undermine the foundation for society and economy. but it was an anti-slavery caused, in the sense that if million of northern had not come as much with election of abraham
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lincoln in 1860, drawn a line in the sand and said slavery shoko no further than this. if they have not done that, the south would have had no reason to leave the union. and northerners, while deeply ambivalent about this union, also in the sense i found surprisingly when you read their words welcome to it to some degree. there had been sort of throughout the north you find people in their heart of hearts hated slavery and felt like they couldn't say it because it was going to risk splitting the nation of more. as soon as the nation is split apart suddenly it's like a grape on stifling for people in the north. suddenly they're able to espouse these thoughts that they weren't able before. not to say by any means, suddenly everyone -- quite far from it. let alone racism it operates
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overnight. and farther from the truth. but there is sort of a collective sigh of relief almost on part of many. >> adam, phrases it beautifully. one person at a time, millions of americans decided in 1861 that their grandparents had in 1776, that it was worth risking everything, their lives and fortunes on their country. not just on its present reality either. not in something so solid but on a vision of what its future could be and what its past admin. 1861, 1776 was not just a year but an idea. this is all part of the theme of minds and hearts. speaking of a person with a great mind and i think a huge part, abraham lincoln.
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not so obscure figure who plays an important part in your narrative, as i'm sure many of you know, the historiography on lincoln is nearly as massive as historiography on the civil war itself. and the different portrayals of lincoln, so buried, the descendent of the union with slavery's a secondary issue for him on the one hand. the great emancipator on the other hand. i guess if you're living in charleston, south carolina, the chief villain in the war of northern aggression. tell us a little bit about your sense of the evolution of lincoln's thought, particularly in 1861 as he confronts this crisis. >> i feel like in the course of writing this book i discovered a very different lincoln than the one i felt i knew. i lincoln you really surprised the and startled me. so much of our understanding of
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lincoln, our mental image of lincoln, is informed by an arc of his greatness throughout the civil war and, of course, his martyrdom at the very end of the war. in 1861, it's quite a different, he's quite a different man. lincoln comes to washington, as i said, on paper at least unprepared for this high office. and he fumbles and stumbles his way through the early weeks and months of this crisis. this is something where some historians disagree, and i was on a panel last week at lincoln historian where we were all mostly to come to blows -- not quite, quite, but you have to hope civil war historians are not caring a cavalry saber or a colt revolver or something. but anyway, my interpretation of lincoln is that he did not really fully understand the gravity of the secession crisis. in fact, as he makes his way slowly to washington, d.c., in
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february 1861 on his way to his first inauguration, he gives a series of speeches that he is just pilloried for, throughout the north and south. he stands up in columbus, ohio, and says well, we have this crisis that we're facing, but at least no one is really suffering yet. at least no one is really hurt. and when we look around us, everything seems fine. it's all going to be all right. and people are saying, wait a minute, the country is split in half and everything is all right? we're about to plunge into a war, and likely economic depression and no one is suffering? so he makes the sort of hand handed remarks, gets to washington, and again is sort of their allies throughout the first weeks that he is confronting this fort sumter crisis. but then has a bit of an
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epiphany. and in response to the problem of what to do at fort sumter, ends up making sort of a, his first great masterstroke as an american leader, when he decides basically of the war is going to start one way or another anyway, and it's in his best interest to make sure that the south is going to fire the first shot rather than the north. this is again something that's been debated, you know, southerners and sometimes it gets a little bit like coming you've heard these conspiracy theorists saying that fdr invited the japanese attack on pearl harbor, or someone was secretly behind the attacks on 9/11. but i really do think that lincoln was sort of thinking several chest moves ahead of jefferson davis in this situation, and may even with that sort of masterstroke -- masterstroke, i was a winning the war but keeping the
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confederacy from winning the war, the crucial moment. so my lincoln is a lincoln who goes from this sort of uncertain and in some ways bubbling guy to i think biden the end of my book, a few months into his presidency, becoming well on his way to the great leader, a great president that we think of today. >> and was -- unfair question, was it union or slavery? >> i think for lincoln, union and slavery were sort of inseparable causes. because the reason that the south was seceding was because of slavery, and it was because of his stand that northerners were taking where they were willing to yield no further to what they called the slave power. and this result had been decreed by the outcome of the national
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election, the election of lincoln in 1860. and so lincoln recognized that if you were to orchestrate some sort of a compromise, and he played his hand very interestingly, candidly, some ways and busy lately during this crisis. he ultimate realize if the south were allowed to blackmail the north, this wouldn't be any kind of the union really worth preserving. i do believe also that lincoln's personal sentiments were very much anti-slavery. there are some documents, you know, when lincoln was riding too close friends, really revealing his heart of hearts rather than standing up in front of an audience and speaking politically and saying what needed to be said. there's one remarkable letter he wrote in 1855 to his friend, joshua speed. josh grispi being lincoln's friend who is really one of the few people that lincoln became
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close to in the course of his life is remarkable that someone like lincoln was such a rich inner emotional life had very few people he could really become close to him confined to but joshua speed was one of these people. he is the man with whom lincoln famously's shared a bed for four years when they were young and. so lincoln rights to speed, and this is as a know nothing movement, the anti-immigrant movement is really catching fire in america. and he says, you do, our country was founded on the principle that all men are created equal. and then that became all men except negroes are created equal. and now it seems to be -- becoming all men except negroes, catholics and immigrants are created equal. and if this is what our country is going to be, i might as well move to russia where i can take my despotism, unadulterated with
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hypocrisy. so i think lincoln did ultimately freedom and slavery work incompatible, whatever he may have found it expedient to say sometimes as a politician. >> adam come in your interview with -- yesterday, you said, and i'm sure i'm paraphrasing, you may not even remember saying this, so i hope this question resonates. he said something to the fact of lincoln did not free the slaves. the slaves freed themselves. if indeed you said that, -- >> itself like something i would say. >> what did you mean? >> well, there was only surprising things that i discovered in researching this book, and stories that i hadn't known about or sort of barely known about, known the outlines of, one of them is the moment at the very start of the war when african-americans themselves
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played african-americans in the south turned this into a struggle for their liberty, at a moment when the vast majority of white americans in both the north and south are certainly not willing to concede of the war that we. and it all happens again active serf-like major robert anderson, sort of a nighttime crossing. there are these two sort of nighttime crossings by both, sort of bookends in my story, and this one happens when three young african-american slaves in virginia who have been conscripted by the confederacy to work on confederate -- confederates expected. in this war we will beat the cavaliers with the shining swords, and the negroes will be the man with the picks and shovels doing the dirty work that we won't have to do. the slaves decide that they don't really feel like being
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confederates very much, can't imagine why, an and they pick un the middle of the night. they steal a boat, they crossed the james river and they present themselves at the gate of afford, called fort monroe, an isolated lonely little union outpost in the middle of confederate territory at the start of the war. the next morning they are brought in to see the commanding general, benjamin butler. and butler is forced to decide what to do with these three men. this is weeks after the attack on fort sumter. this is a moment when lincoln has said this is not going to be a war about slavery. this is a war about union. but he says, can i take these three people and send them back to work on the confederate? cannot take these three people and send them back into slavery? and he had very little time to decide before a confederate officer comes riding on his horse and demands this property,
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human property back. and butler almost on the spur of a mom thinks of something brilliant. he's a general that in private life, he's a lawyer, a very clever massachusetts attorney. and he realizes that by the laws of war he's allowed to confiscate any property that is being used to aid the enemy caused. so he says, do you know what, confederate officer, major, if you and your people insist that these men are property, i'm going to say they are property, too, and i'm going to confiscate them just like i would confiscate a shipment of muskets. so he declares them contraband of war, the legal term. and very quickly, not surprisingly, word spread, word spread to the slave population. and the next day another half dozen slaves appear at the fort. and the day after that some 40
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or 50 slaves appear at the fort. this time it's not only men who have been conscripted to work on the -- also women and children and old people, and soon it becomes hundred and then eventually thousands. and they force this issue of slavery into the agenda of the war. they force the lincoln administration that decision of what to do with these people and the administration decides not to send them back. they also very quickly end up supporting the union cause in important ways, fighting for the union cause, sometimes literally. they become laborers in the union camps. they become scouts and spies for the union. as the union army penetrates confederate territory, they are the only friendly faces, people come out to show them the way. and even weeks into the civil war, as general benjamin butler,
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is sending out his force into what becomes the first significant land battle of the war, the battle of big bethel. he sends out a force, and right at the head of the force alongside the commanding officers is writing one of these escaped slaves who has been helping them scout. butler orders that this man be given a gun to use when they go into battle. extraordinary moment. this is about two years before what we think of as the beginning of black americans serving in the union army, the 54th of massachusetts. to me it's this moment that emancipation really begins. it's not something that lincoln sat down and decreed with a sheet of paper. i sort of close that chapter with a story that i love that hasn't been told very much, and it's a debate that emancipation proclamation is finally issued,
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and william steward, have many of the red team of rivals? and you know that william stewart was in many ways the can is an craftiest number of the lincoln administration. he was walking across lafayette, in washington, the emancipation has just been pro-claim. he runs into a union army officer and then stops and says secretary, congratulations on the great historic act that the administration has proclaimed today. and stewart ignores it and says great historic act? what are you talking about? secretary, the emancipation proclamation, you freed the slaves. and he says emancipation was proclaimed at the first gunfire in fort sumter and we have been the last to hear. with simply let off a puff of wind about an established fact. >> very interesting. this will be the last question that i'll ask and then we will
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want to throw it open to questions from any of you who wish to do so. the south it seems to me tried very hard, particularly in the political debate leading up to secession and then beyond, to appropriate america's to founding document, the declaration of independence and the constitution. they have a little bit of discomfort with the declaration of independence because there was that awkward convention of equality. but nevertheless, they convince himself they were fighting a second american revolution against an overbearing government. and certainly they were also fighting for their own particular interpretation of the constitution. if i read your book right, and particularly a very powerful concluding chapter, you don't
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want to let the southerners get away with that little argument, and your conclusion to the year 1861 is, in fact, not december 31, it's in july 4, 1861. in an event that i will confess i knew nothing about, that abraham lincoln delivered his quote annual message to congress on july 4. and it's a shrunken congress obviously because it's missing all its southern delegates. could you talk a little bit about what you found important about that message? i think a message that most historians have tended to overlook the. >> yeah, well, lincoln again, know something about him that surprised me, surprised many people at the time. fort sumter is fired upon. lincoln calls up 75,000 militiamen to defend the
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nation's capital and be ready for this war that's going to begin. and then he very quickly seems to sort of disappear from sight during this crisis. and he's in the white house writing draft after draft of a message that he is preparing to deliver, actually a special message to congress when congress convenes for a special sense -- special session. people asking where is the president in the middle of this crisis? at one point even with about two or three weeks left until he had to present this document, he literally tells his secretary, no more callers to the white house. i'm just sort of locked up with my rough draft. and even ralph waldo emerson, the great writer himself, says this president of ours just
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seems to be introspect in this country to the point of disaster. to me, lincoln in writing this document, which has not gotten as much attention as what we think of as the great lincoln documents, he was fighting the war intellectually with himself. he was deciding as he was articulating what it was that was wrong about secession, how was that secession was an existential threat to the united states, and how this threat needed to be countered. as you said, the whole legacy of the american revolution was contested at this moment. i love discovering the moments when, in virginia at this fort i was speaking about confederate territory, the union troops wakeup on july 4, and they plan to celebrate the holiday by firing off a bunch of artillery
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salutes and getting wildly drunk, of course, the great american tradition. and then they start firing off their artillery salutes, and very quickly they start hearing from the other side of the james river, confederate artillery firing, and they say holy hell, sneak attack, there opened fire on us. in a related quickly that the confederacy is also celebrating july 4. so who does the holiday belong to? of course july 4 was about the establishment of the united states of america, also as the southerners saw it as separation from a tyrannical mother country, tyrannical power. and what lincoln really expresses in his address is that this july 4 idea belongs to us in the union. the reason it belongs to us in the union rather than to the confederacy is that secession is
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something wholly different from our revolution. the american revolution, the revolutionaries, very significantly were not representative directly within the british political system. that was what the revolution was about. taxation without representation. they were not given a voice. they were not participants in a system of majority rules. and the southerners were and the southerners simply decided to sort of take the cookies and go home when something, when something came up, the election of lincoln that they were ready to acquiesce to pixel lincoln realized that this was not a revolution for liberty, in fact that secession was quite the opposite. secession was a rebellion for energy. and in a way kind of a cuny. that tyranny of the minority holding the majority hostage. and so lincoln sends this message to congress. he reviews the history of what's
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happened up to that moment in the crisis. and he talks end about how this is a people's contest. that's the great phrase that comes out. the people's contest. this is about ultimately democratic principles that involve all of us, he uses the phrase it's about allowing the government to give its citizens and unfettered start in the race of life. something really extraordinary. it's very telling when you look at the rough draft of that address. lincoln originally said giving the citizens and start in life which is a much cleaner metaphor, unfettered start. you're talking about a raise. he struck out the word even and he wrote and unfettered, which many southerners at the time said see, he's talking about slavery. and you know what? i think they were right. >> if people want to start making their way down, i'm going
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to ask what you do that, i am going to ask one more question, which i warned him about. and this might be actually a really nonsensical question, but it's something that is on my mind. ken burns was here at the constitution center a couple of weeks ago for a wonderful stability and democracy conference. and because of the anniversary, they have been rerunning his civil war series. i think there's so many americans, probably many of you out there whose understanding of the civil war has been shaped by that extraordinary documentary series. i also know that you are on the panel with ken burns just a few nights ago. do you see any census in which your book has a different emphasis than ken bors -- ken burns civil war? >> yeah, i do love and help my book does the same thing the way
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that ken really uses individual stories to talk about history. he has this one of the readings of letters, and he makes you here those people's voices and live their experience. i love that, but i think to burn the series, there's some source of tragedy and suffering that so many civil war books have, but that can sort of color our understanding of the war to the point where it obscures so much else. it did end up being an awful tragedy, but people didn't know at the time that was how it was going to turn out. and i think, you know, walt whitman famously said the real war will never make it into the history books. and whitman was saying the real warping the war that he had seen in the union hospitals in washington, the squalid war, the war of human suffering and
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wounded and dying men. but i think if anything, we tend today to focus more on that war of squalor, more on that sort of shared experience of north and south living through the horrors of battle. i think that's true in the civil war series. and i think that can sort of be -- it so powerful, so compelling, and it's so simple that it can sometimes mask from complexity. >> and it was that squalor that drew matthew brady and the other photographers to the war, the endless stacks of bodies. and it's hard to capture and photograph, in a sense the glory and the idealism spirit and there was idealism, but one of the great pleasures of studying and writing about the civil war era is that you do have just these incredible letters come
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incredible photographs, incredible music. when people talk about the assassination of civil war era for us today i think went to give a certain amount of credit just to that stuff, that incredible legacy that we have, the way they could write letters, even the ordinary civil war private in many cases coming up with these incredible phrases in a moment in history when literacy was very widespread, people's brains had been sort of pumped full of styrofoam of mass popular culture so they were capable -- >> we're glad they wrote better than tweeting home. [laughter] now the fun starts. i think i'll turn in this direction because i could tell you are ready. >> thanks, mr. goodheart. you were just alluding to the tragedy of the civil war, and after to not -- after not too
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long ago i want the martin scorsese movie, the gangs of new york, and the horrible tragedy of the draft riots when kind of possibly the know nothing party went after black people in new york and lynched them in the streets. and i was wondering if that happened in any other cities in the u.s.? >> yeah, nowhere was as terrible as it was during those days in new york in the summer of 1863. but, in fact, there were other terrible episodes of that sort of urban violence, that close quarter slaughter that wasn't -- we think of these sort of ranks of blue and gray soldiers marching against one another on the battlefield. that's all that is portrayed. at gettysburg they used to have that sort of lid of mast?
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you see these neat lines come this way and let a blind that way, like a 1960s thing, high-tech. but in many places the civil war was much more like the civil war that we think of today at a place like benghazi, for example. or baghdad recently. a place of very squalid, very personal kind of violence. one place i talk about in my book is saint louis, missouri, where, before any of these sort of noble blue and gray battles were thought at all, there was street fighting going on with civilians being mowed down in the streets of st. louis. and it involved, when you mentioned the know nothings, it involved immigrants. i think -- i won't tell a whole story now but i've also written in my book to include these people who are coming to america
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and verplank very significant roles. and amateur that martin scorsese movie that a lot of paper number is the image of the irish immigrants stepping off of the boat and being handed guns sort of before they even know where they are. do you remember this in the movie? and i think that sort of tarnished irish emigrants reputation unfairly for a lot of people. in fact, i found there were a lot of irish emigrants who are very idealistic for the union cause. they had to experience themselves of knowing what it was like to live under a sort of an oligarchic, tyrannical regime. and there were irish men who marched in a regiment at the beginning of the civil war down broadway, and all irish regiment with a banner over their head. so there were so many
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complexities to the relationships. >> one of the most controversial aspects of the 1861 was lincoln's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. especially in the state of maryland. could you comment on just how dire the situation was in that state prior to his rather momentous action? >> yeah. actually, i live in maryland about half the time so this is very close to home for me. and it's one place where people are still fighting the civil war. i actually, my office is just up the street from our town's civil war monument, and it's an interesting monument because it's on the north facing side is a list of the names of the men who were killed fighting for the union from our town. on the south facing side the men fighting for the confederacy. and many cases the last names are the same.
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i live in the house, an old house that i would say i am restoring it where i am like holding a piece of it before they crumble off, you know? and this house actually was the house of a maryland confederate sympathizer who was a judge who was literally dragged off his bench in the courtroom, beaten, bloodied and unconscious by linking to them for expressing his pro-southern sentiments, thrown into fort mchenry, one of these people without habeas corpus. is writing letters to lincoln begging to know what the charges are against him, and he gets no reply at all. so yeah, this did happen and happen in some very brutal ways, and it happened because lincoln was very aware that the capital, the city of washington, could not be cut off. that if that happened it might be sort of game over for the north. the very beginning of the war in those first weeks of the war, pro-confederate marylanders made a very concerted and very nearly
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successful effort to cut off washington in exactly that way. and i do think that lincoln -- i don't hold lincoln up as a demigod. i do think that his suspension of habeas corpus can still be argued about today, but i think he certainly felt he had good reason for doing what he did. >> i'm going to stay on this site because people have been lined up there for a while and then i'll come back over here. >> nt. if you look into the hearts and minds of the average american, not the studies historian, the average guy or gal who stands at the lincoln memorial admiring lincoln, you think the average american admirers a beloved lincoln because he played a significant role in ending slavery, because he played a significant role in keeping the union together? are because of this magnificent aura that has in terms of his
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political, spiritual, intellectual gifts and our? >> that's a great question. i think magnificent or is a wonderful, wonderful phrase, and you feel that when you stand at the lincoln memorial. and press part of it is also because of the extraordinary statute era, such a presence in the temple. one thing i don't think every american does revere lincoln. in fact, some of the best selling books on lincoln in the past 10 or 20 years our books by guy named thomas dilorenzo. this a story whose whole shtick is what evil fascist pig abraham lincoln was. [laughter] is something i also found writing for the new york times, there's a lot of commentators who want to paint abraham lincoln as well, sort of a pro-obama, this guy who stands for arbitrary authoritarian use of federal power to squash state rights, individual rights?
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lincoln is still a controversial figure. i think it's hard to say why the average american does love lincoln, if we do love lincoln. but i think that part of it is certainly betty friedan sleazy part of it is he freed the union. part of the is his story is such a magnificent story. his words are such magnificent words. and those are things that we can't discount. those stories come and i believe the job of the historian is to be a storyteller. i'm not somebody who believes as many historians do in sort of fitting all these people into these neat categories of the blacks, whites, the northerners, the southerners. that individuality has to be respected for them just as we understand how complex we are as individuals in our own time. i think lincoln was such an extraordinarily complex individual that he speaks your own humanity as individuals, to.
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>> how are you? >> fine. how are you? >> historians believe that the civil war did not actually start in fort sumter, but in 1856 in lawrence kansas. what is your take on that? >> good question. it's great because my cousin is a. i'm looking out and seeing, you know, where my cousin -- where the people from the class of 88? looking for some of them. when the constitution center folks told me the that was fully booked, i said 99% of those people are related to me. [laughter] but anyway, to get back to lawrence, kansas, yeah, bleeding kansas as it was known was really sort of a place where americans learned to kill other americans. it was where the bloodshed began. and i do think it's fair to say in some ways that the civil war began there.
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that battle, literally a battle of slavery began there. and, you know, in our country one of the reasons i believe that we're so fascinated in the civil war is that in a democratic system we are always doing battles against each other. we even used the metaphor the battles to talk about our politics. political campaigns, you know, and so it is like we're on the verge of warfare, but the civil war was the one time that actually turned into real shoot them up warfare. and something happened at that moment that guns start to fire. a line is crossed, and especially as we've seen in our own times when people start to turn guns on their own fellow citizens. i do believe that kansas in 1856 was where that became a sort of a credible reality, and without that moment the war couldn't eventually happen. >> as a constitutional historian
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i can't resist this one, 1857, dred scott. >> dred scott. >> but i think dred scott, it's important not where the ballots become bullets. that's a pretty big turning point. >> yes, sir. >> my question is about britain's response to the beginning of the civil war. i understand in the early stages of conflict that britain was sympathetic, if not supported, to the confederacy. and i would imagine because of the importance, vital importance of the british economy of the 19th century. can you tell me when that attitude changed and how and why britain changed later on? >> yeah, i think, you know, when we talk about the british, again, it was a place and they were people as competent and divide as americans are, so there were many individual
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britain's -- their individual britons were in favor of the confederacy. i think particularly within the ruling elites in england, people felt challenged by this sort of upstart republic that crossed the waters, or challenged philosophically challenged economically in some ways. and they also did fear what would happen if these time exports from the southern states were interrupted. the rate great many britons who were strongly anti-slavery. of course, as we know britain had had its own strong abolitionist movement for many decades, really got off the ground before the american movement did. and inspired the american movement to some degree. and i really think that it would've been very, very, very politically difficult for the british government to step in on the side of a government that stood for slavery. i mean, queen victoria and prince albert themselves were
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strongly anti-slavery, and i think especially as soon as that moment happened where the south fired the first shot rather than the north firing the first shot, i think from that moment on it would have been very difficult for the english, for great britain to come in on the site of the south. thank you. >> from all the readings i've done, general beauregard, new orleans, was in command of the troops at fort sumter. for the confederacy. i've also read he was a rabid southern, he was a gentleman of the first order. but i have never read that he personally tried to make a demand of major anderson to surrender the fort audibly and to lead under the rules of war, full honors, you know, the whole
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bit, and playing and all that. i was wondering if you could shed some light on that? >> see, we finally got around to that moment. [laughter] >> this is good. >> this is the point. in all my courses of american history and in all my readings, i've never found anything to this effect that they try to settle it amicably. >> pierre beauregard was a sort of marvelous character, dapper louisiana. and was an air of great facial hair. he had great they should even by the standards of the time. much better than my come into daily. but anyway, beauregard, the confederate, this then becomes the confederate committee, is a close friend and former student of major anderson, the confederate, the commander of
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the union garrison. and beauregard arrives to take command and the first thing he does is to send a case of brandy and a box of cigars across the harbor to express his continued esteem and affection. and he reached the in gosh, that was a different era, wasn't it? different kind of warfare. anderson being a very -- hobby sends him back unopened of much as he probably needed brandy and cigars. but beauregard, in fact, he does sort of offer anderson these terms of surrender. and anderson deniers the terms of surrender. at yeah, in fact, in the language that was used is wonderful. it's all my dear general, my dear major. i have the honor to inform that our batteries shall open fire upon you within one hour's time.
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i remain your obedient and humble servant, yours for ever, general pierre beauregard. [laughter] they were still opening fire so i suppose politeness didn't matter that much. >> like there was no parlor at any time spent there was. general dorko it's an eight across to the fort to attempt to negotiate terms with anderson by which he would withdraw peacefully, but anderson and beauregard couldn't put the terms together. >> so he fired on his old teacher. you better watch yourself, doctor. [laughter] >> i am expecting to answer that one from our professor and one from you, please. spent which of us is which? >> yesterday i was watching the news hour, they agree that in the 1960s where people, where american people, literally said
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american people start to flee,. [inaudible] edges happened in the 1960s were asked essential happen in europe and in the training, i wonder if we'll ever come to conclusion about history. and -- >> can we take that one first? that sounds like a heavy-duty one. >> the first time toward asked essential is used -- >> actually, another thing, disagreement about history. because we are existential, we became existentialists. >> no, i would disagree with that. i think arguments about history have existed as long as history has existed. disagreements about the meaning of the past has existed as long as history has. i don't think that's a bad thing.
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i think we sort of grope towards an understanding of the past two that disagreement. we always see the past through the preoccupation of our own times. we always rewrite the past according to preoccupation of her own time. and it's right for us to do that. we are never going to arise -- the pass is a complex place as the president will never arrived at an understanding of that. >> i think we have one more question. is that a union army handed? >> you betcha. >> okay. [laughter] >> good evening, sir. just a question, please. in regard to the writ of habeas corpus, i know that this has been brought up, that the chief justice declared that it was unconstitutional. my question, sir, is how did the
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legislative overrule the judicial? in my readings it said justice said it was illegal, the highest court in lansing you didn't have a right to do it. and i want to know how lincoln got away with it. >> lincoln got away with it simply by ignoring them. >> that's what the readings had come he ignored them. >> you know, our constitution, this is the thing doctor beamon can address much more than i. they were still in the process of sorting working out the kinks in many respects in 1861. it was not entirely clear what the jurisdiction of the supreme court began. and ended. and lincoln sort of just 70 cited to ignore that ruling. >> in the same vein, a slightly earlier era when chief justice john marshall rendered his
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decision, anderson judges, after should jackson said marshall rendered his decision, now let's see him and force it. 's picture we take one more question over your? >> one more. >> you mentioned, made a remark of almost seemed casual just before you opened the floor to questions and just kind of curious. something to the effect of the majority being held hostage by minority. i wonder if you can elaborate on that? >> sure. i think that, you know, within our democratic system, the very foundation of our democratic system is that there's a vote of one sort or another, that ultimately the majority wins, even if it is just by one vote, even if, as we've seen in our own times, presidential election that can be extremely, extremely close. and ultimately the entire foundation of our democratic
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system is on the fact that when that happens, the minority acquiesces. as difficult and as painful as that may be, and they say our remedy for this is that we're going to come back and fight another day within the system. as soon as that minority decides that they're going to pull out, the entire concept of democracy is no longer sustainable. when lincoln said in the gettysburg address that was so the government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth, he wasn't exaggerating. it wasn't better. he knew the world was looking at this american democratic experiment, and if it does alter equipped with an sort of two, three generations into anarchy, that would be it. democracy which a it wasn't viable. so, i do think that secession was kind of a monarchy -- anarchy against the foundations
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of our democratic system, and lincoln's great genius was to hold fast to that understanding and not flinch from fighting and winning that war. [applause] >> thank you so much to adam goodheart. again, it is a wonderful book. there will be a book signing immediately following this. i think out there in the hallway. and thank you all so much for continuing to support this wonderful programs of the constitution. thank you. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> adam goodheart is a commons on the civil war for "the new york times" blog. you find out more information visit the website. >> it was on july 18 of this year that borders announced that it would be liquidating the rest of its stores but joining us by phone now from new york is sarah weinman. news editor of publishers marketplace your what happened in the weeks leading up to july 18? it seemed that borders was going to be resurrected or save? >> it did seem as if borders was going to be saved. what happened is that nick jossey companies which was a
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private equity company based out of i believe arizona which own direct brands, which had also owned what used to be known as book-of-the-month club. they put in the bid for price $250 million in assets and also would've assumed $220 million in liabilities. everything looked good right up until the beginning of this week when all of a sudden everything started to fall apart. creditors for borders had objected. they thought that it wasn't entirely forthcoming in the sense that they were not actually sure that they would keep borders going as a going concern. so they were worried about this, and they couldn't exactly come out and say one way or the other. so dependent on which vantage point you are looking, either that they pulled out or that it was canceled and ultimately borders elected to go with their backup plan, which was to go
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with the liquidators. in doing so, they avoid having to pay what's known as a breakup fee because of, let's say, another bidder that had come in, that it would've had to pay about $6.4 million. this way because the liquidation coming in, there was no breakup fee. and it's sort of moved through the court system. and affect liquidation started today, which is friday. and was approved at 3 p.m. yesterday in bankruptcy court. >> when you see liquidation started, sarah weinman, what does that mean? >> it means as of today, going out of business sales are happening in as many as 399 stores. there is a caveat. in court yesterday, and i would -- i was there taking notes, a latebreaking development the place where books am in which is the third largest book chain in the country, they put an offer for 30 stores, 22 superstars and
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eight smaller stores, and the details were still being worked out as of today, but the judge approved it provisionally. if the creditors have some concerns and other hearts of it as well. into the best of my knowledge, they are still working that out, which means that a good 369 stores are beginning to liquidation proceedings. by that comment means that there are believe i believe 40% off sales, customers have borders awards postcards can use them. and other discounts up until about august 5 until the liquidation sales are finished. it means that landlords will be able to market those real estate properties to others once all the stores close at the end of september. inventory, they're trying to get everything sold off as quickly as possible. trying to sell furniture, all
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the contracts that they had with various other companies, those are coming to an end. so it's over. >> you are saying the stores will be closing at the end of september. talk to us a bit about direct impact, how many employees? >> there are about 10,700 employees who are going to lose their jobs at this point. if the books a million things come through, that may lead to the retention of between 101,500 jobs. but that's still a very small amount of the overall number. of these 10,700 employees, about a prospect for thousand of them are full-time employees composed of those working on the ground in stores as well as those in orders michigan headquarters. that's a tremendous loss to the overall economic climate. it's a lot of good, hard-working people who are not going to be
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thrown into an economic climate that is hardly favorable at this point. it's very interesting to see there's been a grassroots campaign online by various people, the publishing community to try to connect borders employees who are about to lose their jobs with other potential publishing and bookish type jobs that are available. what it is also doing a sort of shining a light on what's going on with independent bookselling. now, of course, independent booksellers -- independent bookstores were greatly impacted by the rise of big block superstars like borders and barnes & noble through the early 90s and 2000s. it will be interesting to see what they will be able to do, not just as borders retracts and closes up shop as barnes & noble's transition into more of a digital company, and, of course, what happens with respect to the explosion of e-book grow


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